For nearly 125 years, the hearts and hands of our extraordinary team members have carried the mission of Bethesda forward. Today, it is hard to imagine a time like this within our history in which the decisions we make and the paths we take will influence the future of our mission in such significant ways.
As we move forward, we must reflect on our team’s accomplishments and how our community has rallied behind our calling to serve older adults in our region. Since March 2020, the Minnesota Department of Health has visited Bethesda Grand and Club Suites several times to conduct COVID-related infection control surveys. Each visit has resulted in resoundingly near-perfect results and glowingly positive remarks from the surveyors on our staff’s safety precautions and PPE compliance throughout our entire setting. Since May 2020, Bethesda’s COVID-19 testing teams have conducted more than 30,000 COVID-19 tests amongst our staff, residents, tenants, and client populations. We led the region in ongoing coronavirus testing and have remained committed to the fact that we cannot contain or protect what we do not know. We value that with each testing experience, we gain valuable information that can keep our settings and community safer. Recently, we’ve returned to regular COVID-19 testing for all staff, vaccinated and unvaccinated, to ensure we’re best protecting or settings against the new delta variant.
We are proud of the bold response to this pandemic and continue to be proud of the daily actions taken by our staff to help live out our mission. Now, we remain aware that this next phase of our journey poses some of the most challenging and vulnerable conditions that Bethesda and our local communities may face. Recently, the federal government announced plans to require all skilled nursing facilities, also known as nursing homes, to mandate employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine to remain eligible for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services funding.
As you can imagine, this is an incredibly complex and delicate scenario to navigate. We must thoughtfully address this newly imposed requirement while consciously addressing the critical implications that may result in accessing local care due to the peaking health care staffing crisis within our region.
Bethesda has committed to helping guide each of our team members through COVID-19 vaccine education and processes. Before the announcement, Bethesda had already planned to expand vaccine access through a series of on-site vaccination clinics. We remain committed to providing ongoing vaccine education for all staff, residents, tenants, and clients. And promote every avenue available to help support participation in what we believe to be a valuable resource in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Currently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have not indicated parameters in what their mandate and exemption process will entail. As we await further guidance, we intend to continue our protective measures through continued testing, screening, PPE requirements and introduce an expanded individualized vaccine education program. We hope this process will help provide a greater understanding and foundation for decision-making as we determine how this announcement will best be implemented within our organization while respecting our stakeholder choices.
Bethesda’s mission has overcome some tremendous challenges within its 125-year history. Our prayer is that we may find a way to continue focusing on our unified desire to uphold health and safety while respecting personal decisions for all. We will continue to provide updated details as more information becomes available.